I made chicken galantine just for the heck of it
I'm just a humble amateur home chef, but I've been inspired by my latest checkout from the public library, Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie. I'm not even much of a meat eater, I don't eat pork at all, and yet I find this book fascinating.
Anyway, I had time on my hands and was ready for a challenge, so I picked the chicken galantine to make.
It's not really a hard recipe, but the first step is the most difficult, and that is skinning the entire chicken in one piece. Some other recipes have you keep the boned meat attached to the skin, but this one just demands removing the skin in one piece, with small holes where you remove it from the wingtips and legs. I actually succeeded in this quite well, in no less than 45 minutes. Problem was that you are supposed to be able to trim an 8-inch by 12-inch "neat" rectangle from the skin. Well, my skin was very irregularly shaped and was not going to form a neat rectangle of even half that size, so I needed to do lots of cutting and pasting and ended up with a very rough and inelegant rectangle. Any tips on this point would be appreciated.
Next was boning the chicken and removing the breasts. I was left with a skinless, almost meatless carcass which I used to make about 3/4 gallon of chicken stock. I chilled the dark meat and some trimmings from the breasts and ground them through my Kitchen Aid grinder attachment with about 6.5 oz. of beef fat. Then I browned the chicken breasts, cooked some shallots in the pan and made a Marsala reduction. Next the ground meat went into the cuisinart with the reduction, egg whites, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, white pepper, salt. Next step was folding in 3/4 cup of cream (I think the last step of this recipe is a coronary angioplasty!)
Now I just needed to fold pistachios and sauteed mushrooms into the forcemeat and I was ready to go.
I placed my inelegant chicken skin rectangle on cheesecloth, then layered half the forcemeat on top. I then placed the chicken breasts end-to-end on top, and covered them with the rest of the forcemeat.
Unfortunately the chicken skin only barely covered all this filling, and there were some gaps where the trimmed skin was pasted together, but I just covered the cheesecloth over everything, formed a log, and tied it off at both ends with butcher twine.
Next I poached the entire thing (which, by the way, seemed like the size of a bazooka) in the chicken broth in a roasting pan at 170 degrees for thirty minutes, then let in cool in the liquid, then let it chill overnight in the fridge (still in the liquid).
Meanwhile I made a sauce of orange marmalade, orange and lemon peel, fresh and dried ginger and sherry.
Finally, it was time to open the thing up.
Thank goodness, the thing was a coherent and not unshapely log. Even where there were gaps in the skin the filling conformed to the shape of the cheesecloth. Would have been nice to have the skin perfect, but oh well. Let me tell you, it's not really the most attractive looking dish at this stage.
But guess what? Slicing into wedges resulted in perfect oval slices with a pale yellow border of skin perfectly framing the filling. The filling itself was flecked with little round green chunks of pistachio and swaths of mushroom. In the center was an oval of chicken breast, with perfect integration into the filling. Looked sort of like a Mondrian or Russian constructivist painting.
And the taste? Pretty good, although could have been spiced a little more aggressively. It's a little weird to eat chicken skin in this way, but not too bad.
I'd rate the dish 2/10 on appearance when uncut, 9/10 on appearance of slices and 5/10 on flavor.
Was it worth it? Well, let's just say I wanted to make something nice for my girlfriend who is about to start law school finals, so I served this with pumpkin soup made with the poaching liquid and some brown rice with tofu (Food pairing is not my forte). I think she liked it, but probably found it kind of strange, and was certainly alarmed by the fat content.
Would I make it again? Yes, but just to get the damn chicken skin right this time!
May I recommend a very useful book that my daughter gave me about food pairings? It sits right where I can grab it all the time.
"Culinary Artistry" by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page won the 1996 James Beard Award for Food Writing. It lists foods and what goes with them. Such as what goes with cooked cabbage as opposed to raw cabbage, or with duck. Do you know how sometimes you eat something and say to yourself, "Hmm, something just isn't right with that." Maybe there was an herb in it that just fought the basic flavor.
There's a chapter on "Composing a Dish" that includes Why Food Matches and another on "Composing a Menu" explaining Common Accompaniments to Entrées with advice from top chefs. It is as simple as advising you to use dill with cucumber and as complex as a full week of menus from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse.
It has some really good recipes from some top chefs as well. And it's an enjoyable read.
I just looked at what these two have written, and it's an impressive and interesting list. Their WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT is the 2007 IACP "Cookbook of the Year" and Georges Duboeuf "Wine Book of the Year." And, as I'm sure you know, they have a column in the Washington Post.
Their wine column in the Post (available online) is one of the best around. No hoity-toity foolishness that makes people feel ignorant. They're as likely to do a roundup of great jugwines that won't be embarrassing for big parties with a tight budget - I tore that one out - as they are to do one about upper end vintages. Good entertaining writing that I look forward to each week.
The Culinary Artistry book is a classic. The best guide for cooking without a recipe. Come home from the market with any vegetable and it tells you what methods you can use, what complements it. If something is missing from the list, the chances are there's a reason. Probably because the flavors just don't go. Keep it simple and you can't go wrong.
I absolutely Loved reading your post. Such a detailed and inclusive description of a process I would never attempt myself. ( I liked the suggestion above of letting the butcher skin and debone) Yours was a gallant gesture that I'm sure your girlfriend more than appreciated. Good luck with her finals!
As for the food pairings, sometimes you simply have to try things to see if they go together.
Thanks so much for posting such a detailed report! I have made a great many terrines in my life, but have never gone the galantine route, because of the intimidation factor (skinning/boning part). I am filled with admiration for you! And I agree with others, chicken skin is just NOT pretty, holes or not, it's the nature of the beast, and a meal like that cries out for a green salad - next time. This was a very nice thing for you to have done for your girlfriend and an accomplishment to be justifiably proud of.
Congrats! I made a pate from this book for T-Day this year, which was definitely not as advanced as the galatine, but I was surprised at how easy it was. His directions are nice and verbose. He did mention that since the forcemeats are to be served cold, they should be aggressively salted. I'm inspired by you to step it up to this next level. Maybe en croute?
I wonder- the butcher can do the skinning and deboning, right? How much more expensive would that be?
You did GREAT!!! I don't think anybody can make a perfectly beautiful galantine. Is chicken skin pretty? Nooooo! Even if you don't tear it up. Why do the French get into all that chaud-froid and aspic stuff, huh? To cover up that pale, plucked, poached, stretched skin.
So don't worry about it. If you want to make it pretty, you can reduce some of the poaching liquid to an aspic and use it to "glue" decoratively cut veggies to the galantine, to mask the flaws. The reduced liquid can also be used to make some fancy sauces to enrobe the galantine if you want to get really hot-shot. I usually just slice them and fan them out so nobody sees how ugly they look.
With something this rich and heavy, I probably would have skipped the pumpkin soup (texture problem) and the rice (starchy and same color as forcemeat) and gone with a green salad (brighter and acid would have helped) and some crisp vegetables (textural contrast to the forcemeat.)
Still, nice job! Thanks for the enjoyable post.
What a wonderful and detailed account. I've never made a galantine because the deboning and skin removal scared me off.
I did, however, make a jellied beef terrine in the style of the Gironde from Paula Wolfert's Cooking of Southwest France. It was just as daunting except that there was no delicate skin removal. The whole terrine was held together with the meat jelly formed during refrigeration. It involved pig's trotters, fat back, Armagnac, carrots, onions, beef, rendered poultry fat and many more ingredients. It took almost to prepare it as it as did to drive all over and get all the ingredients together.
I think it was worth it, but I don't feature doing it again any time soon. I think the creamy shallot vinaigrette served with it made the whole thing come together.
You should be proud of yourself - especially for the deboning and skin removal! The picture of the filling mixture and the whole chicken breasts sounded very impressive!
Thanks for sharing this.